There were very few times during my 12 years as Denver’s mayor that I wished I would have done something differently. But when the Metropolitan Football Stadium District was forming to use tax dollars to build a new home for the Denver Broncos, I should have stipulated that the “Mile High Stadium” name had to remain on the new venue.
Before the stadium opened in 2001, the stadium district members and the Broncos were not happy with me. I called a brew pub owner at the time, John Hickenlooper, who was helping to lead those opposed to selling the naming rights, to meet in my office. We jointly lobbied to keep the Mile High Stadium name when the district and team were recruiting businesses for the naming rights. This was a time when naming rights on public stadiums were garnering millions of dollars. But our argument then – and now – is the “Mile High Stadium” name is priceless for the city, region and even the team.
That tagline is our identity and our pride, not unlike New York’s “Big Apple” and Chicago’s “Windy City.”
Now, after 15 years of having a corporate name on the stadium, it’s time to get back to our civic roots.
Remember that stadium was built with tax dollars. It is not a private stadium. Local taxpayers built that stadium and I believe we should have a say in what it is called.
Like the Denver Post at the time, I refused to call the new stadium “Invesco Field at Mile High.” When Sports Authority purchased the naming rights after Invesco dropped the rights, I still called it Mile High Stadium. Many old-time sports announcers also continued to refer to it as Mile High Stadium. I take no joy in Sports Authority’s current economic woes but I see it as an opportunity for the stadium district and team to give the fans and the city a gift.
When the Broncos General Manager John Elway says Denver Broncos fans are the best in the world, reward that by giving us back our stadium name.
An estimated 1 million fans showed up for the Super Bowl victory parade in February. We’ve stood by our team through thick and thin, through Super Bowl losses and wins.
Reward those million fans and millions more around the country and the world. When the first game of the 2016 season begins this fall, let’s have all of the sports announcers proclaim: “Welcome to Mile High Stadium!”
Editor’s note: Wellington Webb served as Denver’s mayor from 1991-2003.